The Jeffco Observer accepts editorials from community members. Letters are printed at the discretion of the editor and may be edited for length, clarity, and style. The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the various authors on this forum do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of The Jeffco Observer or its staff.
GLASS THROWS STONES AT COLORADO REFORMS
On September 11, 2017, Colorado Politics published an interview with Jeffco’s new “Million Dollar” Superintendent, Jason Glass. The accompanying picture with his family sitting on hay bales with Mr. Glass, his wife, and two children dressed in cowboy hats makes them seem the quintessential Colorado family. There is no sign of Mr. Glass’ Kentucky roots or the two years he spent leading the Iowa Department of Education.
In the article, however, Mr. Glass tells us just how proud he is of the education reforms he implemented in Iowa. In the process, Mr. Glass insults tens of thousands of Colorado educators, students, parents and legislators who spent countless hours over the last two decades developing trend-setting changes in public education. It is clear Mr. Glass does not think much of the changes Colorado has made to our public education system despite the increases in student achievement our students have experienced. Mr. Glass is very proud of the changes he made in Iowa: “No other state in the country has accomplished anything similar to what Iowa has done in terms of genuine methods of raising educator quality.”
Of the changes in Colorado, he said, “Colorado has been a trendsetter in terms of test-based accountability, evaluation and expanded school choice, and all of these approaches have some merit. But I have yet to see a system which achieved greatness through pursuing them—Colorado included. I am skeptical of achieving system-wide greatness for our state through these approaches.”
Mr. Glass must not have been following the improved achievement growth Colorado students have earned. Compared to Iowa students, Colorado’s students have experienced more academic growth. I am not sure how they measure “educator quality” in Iowa, but if it isn’t increased student achievement, then what’s the point?
I hope Mr. Glass will change his ways and implement changes in Jeffco that have proven effective at improving student achievement not just “educator quality.”
C. Heine Concerned Parent
BOARD IGNORES PLEAS OF PARENTS
Nearly every month for over a year I and other parents of students with autism have come before the school board and asked them for more supports for our children in middle school. We have respectfully praised the efforts of some elementary teachers, but unfortunately most teachers don’t have the skills necessary to appropriately respond to the needs of our children.
We have politely asked the school board to slow down their seeming single-minded push to force 6th graders out of elementary schools. We continue to remind the board that our students currently have specially trained teachers in their elementary schools. Once students with autism move to middle school, no such extra supports exist.
Why the rush to move 6th graders out of elementary school. We just want assurance that there will be support for autistic children in middle schools before they are forced into classrooms with teachers who aren’t properly trained.
Why would the school board intentionally ignore the pleas of our group of passionate parents?
B. Hart Concerned Mom of a Child with Autism
WHY IS THIS SCHOOL BOARD PICKING ON WHEAT RIDGE?
As a long-time Wheat Ridge resident and a previous supporter of our current school board, I have become disenchanted as this board has time and again placed Wheat Ridge communities in their crosshairs. Shortly after they were elected, they threatened to close four of the eight elementary schools in Wheat Ridge and instead build super schools which would have made some students travel miles from their homes to attend elementary school. We love Stober, Vivian, Prospect Valley and Kullerstrand. Each school has a unique environment and serves its local community. By attending school board meetings and expressing our fears, the schools were not closed.
Then in January of 2017 for some reason the board focused on our town again. At the beginning of this year they threatened to close Pennington and Stober elementary schools. CLOSE TWO WHEAT RIDGE SHOOLS? Stober is a great high-performing and over- enrolled neighborhood school, but it came within one vote at a school board meeting of being closed. Susan Harmon, who is running to keep her seat on the school board, voted to close Stober. And Brad Rupert, who is also running for re-election, voted to close Pennington. Fortunately, neither will be closed, but how often must we go through this?
The board also threated to close the very popular and widely successful gifted and talented program at Wheat Ridge High School. Hundreds of students, staff, and parents turned out to support the program. While the
“Susan Harmon voted to close Stober; Brad Rupert voted to close Pennington.”
board did decide to fund the program for one more year, they provided even more ongoing funding to most other Jeffco high schools but left Wheat Ridge off the list. I am very disappointed in this board’s performance. I won’t be voting for the incumbents.
N. Vanenti Wheat Ridge Farmer
TURNS OUT UNIONS WERE MAJOR FUNDERS OF THE RECALL
I was one of the many parents who were concerned in 2015 when I heard the Jeffco school board was disrespecting teachers, spending millions on attorneys and holding secret meetings. I was even more concerned when word spread that our school board might be trying to censor American History.
What I didn’t know at the time was that the AP History curriculum had already been changed—by the College Board. The College Board writes the tests and standards for Advanced Placement classes and they had just released new guidelines which didn’t include key historic figures like Martin Luther King. Even Jeffco Social Studies teacher, Stephanie Rossi, acknowledged that the new standards needed to be reviewed. Turns out all the board wanted to do was review, not censor, the new standards.
I also didn’t know that school boards regularly hire attorneys and sometimes have meetings behind closed doors to discuss personnel issues and to receive legal advice. The noise in 2015 certainly made me start to pay attention. I didn’t learn much of the truth until after the 2015 school board elections when it came out that much of the agitation was financed by the local and national teachers’ union. Despite Wendy McCord and other recall leaders insisting they didn’t receive funding from unions, the truth is they were! I don’t take kindly to being lied to. As my mother said fool me once shame on you…
S. Touche Jeffco Voter
WHY I AM FINISHED WITH JEFFCO PTA
For years I dutifully paid my membership fee to my school’s PTA. In fact, we usually paid for two memberships, one for my husband and one for myself. I considered it a donation to the school. I played an active role in fundraising, chaired the teacher appreciation event, and helped coordinate classroom volunteers. Then I learned that much of the dues money goes to support state and national efforts, not my school.
Worse, some of that money is used to advocate for or against legislation. Now I am OK with advocating for higher pay for great teachers and for improving student achievement, but did you know the PTA weighs in on non-school legislation being proposed in Colorado? Did you know the district- and state-level PTA votes on whether to support or oppose many bills going through the Colorado legislature? That is not really how I thought my PTA dollars were going to be spent. Oftentimes, I disagreed with the positions of the PTA. It seems like many positions taken by the Jeffco PTA do not support a parent’s right to direct the education of our children.
I might have been able to look past that, but I can’t look past the fact that the past president of the Jefferson County Teachers Union is now the president of the Jeffco PTA. I realize PTA is Parent Teacher Association but for me that means collaborating and working together. It doesn’t mean the teachers’ union takes over leadership. But now it makes sense why so many of the PTA positions on legislation don’t seem to be to be parent focused. I am now donating my dues money directly to the school.
S. Wiess Former PTA Member
SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER IS NOT A GOOD RESOURCE
There has been much in the news lately about reputable organizations severing ties with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Most recently the Pentagon announced it would no longer be using any of their resources. Many have called the SPLC a “powerful left-wing interest group” that has tagged many Christian organizations as “hate- groups.”
That is why I was shocked that Jeffco’s new Superintendent used SPLC resources on a list of suggested curriculum resources teachers could use in response to Charlottesville. Never mind that we have a process in Jeffco for new resources to be vetted before they are used in classrooms. Mr. Glass is new to Jeffco and we will give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t know there is a process for staff, students, parents, and community members to review new material to avoid just the type of inappropriate use of resources Mr. Glass seemed to propose.
Setting aside the process blunder. How can anyone think that using resources from the Southern Poverty Law Center in Jeffco classrooms is OK?
DO NOT WASTE $50 MILLION ADDING CAPACITY TO MIDDLE SCHOOLS & FORCING 6TH GRADERS OUT OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
In some parts of Jeffco, 6th graders are taught in middle schools and it seems to work well for families. But in most of Jeffco, 6th graders are taught in elementary schools where they spend less time on electives, but more time on reading, writing, and arithmetic. I realize that is kind of unique in this day and age. It may very well explain why Jeffco’s 6th graders not only perform significantly better than students in most other grades, their achievement is also higher than 6th graders in most other districts. While there is not much research on the topic, what is available shows 6th graders taught in elementary schools do perform better than those in middle schools.
So why is Jeffco’s school board supporting a plan which will require spending up to $50 million to add capacity to middle schools and forcing 6th graders out of elementary schools? While some middle schools have enough seats to accommodate 6th graders, many do not. Adding classrooms to those buildings will add thousands more seats when there are already 10,000 empty classroom seats in Jeffco.
6th grade teachers will even have to take additional training in order to become “highly certified” to teach in middle school, something they will have to do on their own dime. Our 6th grade teachers are the best. I don’t want to lose them because they can’t afford the new certifications.
How is this a good use of taxpayer resources?
P. Seign Middle School Mom